Leading Danish Retail Bank SPARBANK Migrates to JBoss Enterprise Middleware to Ensure High Availability for Mission-Critical Applications

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February 27, 2011

Customer: Sparbank

Geography: EMEA
Country: Denmark


Business Challenge:

For legal compliance reasons, SPARBANK must ensure high availabillity for mission-critical applications. The bank also required access to professional support and services for its application platform.

Migration Path:

JBoss.org community project to JBoss Enterprise Middleware

Solution:

JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform, JBoss Enterprise Service Bus

Benefits:

Guaranteed high availability and greater flexibility of SPARBANK’s mission-critical application platform

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Background:

SPARBANK, listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, has served both consumers and businesses since 1857 and is a leading retail bank in Denmark with 22 branch offices across the country. The Danish retail banking market is very competitive with several active market players. SPARBANK offers personalised services to its customers combined with competitive pricing and above all trust. In 2009 the bank had revenues of 964 million Danish crowns or approximately 129 million EUR (based on exchange rate on 28 September 2010).

Business Challenge:

In today’s digital era, SPARBANK relies on its IT infrastructure to deliver applications and services that enable the bank to fulfil its commitment to its customers. Some applications are used by the bank’s staff, others are external services offered directly to customers. IT infrastructure is mission-critical to any modern bank like SPARBANK and applications need to perform at all times with zero down-time. SPARBANK also must be compliant with a number of legal and other regulatory frameworks, which encompass IT systems and require the IT department to demonstrate how it ensures the availability of mission-critical applications.

SPARBANK’s internal team develops Java applications for use throughout the bank’s IT systems. Initially established to build applications not available in the marketplace, the team has developed specifically tailored applications, which have become increasingly mission-critical over the years. This means the development team is frequently audited to ensure that the applications meet requirements of regulatory frameworks. Business rules also required the development team to create documents attached to each application, which detail the planned response to potential system problems. To stay compliant with business rules and ensure smooth operation of mission-critical applications, the development team at SPARBANK also needed access to professional support and services for its application platform.

Solution:

SPARBANK evaluated two Java application platforms to build and host its applications: Oracle WebLogic and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. The Oracle solution was considered an option mainly because it was already used by SPARBANK’s affiliate offices around Denmark to support some of the collectively used applications. However, the team determined that there was no real need to integrate with those applications. The development team also had previous experience with Red Hat and JBoss and could download the JBoss.org community trial version at no extra cost. After deploying the JBoss community project, JBoss Application Server, and JBoss ESB Server, applications have evolved to a more advanced and increasingly mission-critical level. However, SPARBANK’s regulatory framework required the development team to have access to professional support. The natural step forward was to move to supported JBoss SOA Platform, which takes the best projects and features from JBoss Community projects and other communities such as The Apache Software Foundation and integrates them into stable, supported middleware solution.

SPARBANK uses JBoss Enterprise Application Platform to build, run, and host applications. It has also deployed JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform to integrate and orchestrate enterprise applications and automate business processes. The bank utilises the ESB, Enterprise Service Bus, part of the SOA platform, to integrate applications built on JBoss with a variety of other systems, including IBM Lotus Notes, SAS Marketing Automation, TRIO call centre software, Transact credit scoring software, and Kondor+ risk management software.

SPARBANK built and now hosts a number of mission-critical applications on the JBoss platform, for example an investment assessment application, which keeps track of customers’ losses and gains in currency speculations and utilises this data for financial advice to those customers. The bank has also deployed a risk assessment tool that analyses customers’ holdings of different types of financial papers and assesses the bank’s risk.

To realize the full benefits of JBoss Enterprise Middleware, some members of SPARBANK’s IT team have attended Red Hat’s middleware training courses, focused on managing and administrating applications running on JBoss platforms.

Benefits:

By migrating to JBoss Enterprise Middleware, SPARBANK received access to professional services and support, thereby ensuring compliance with both internal and external business rules, including guaranteeing high availability of the applications developed and running on JBoss environments.

Migrating from the community projects available on JBoss.org to fully supported and tested JBoss Enterprise Middleware platforms took just a few weeks. “We did not experience any issues when migrating to the enterprise version of the JBoss platform. It would have gone even faster if we had not decided to cluster the platform and run it on several virtual servers simultaneously in order to ensure high availability. This decision has enhanced the flexibility of our platform as it enables us to do maintenance work on applications anytime, also for example during working hours, something which we were not able to do before,” said Kenneth Larsen.

One of the most important aspects of solving potential system problems is response time. Red Hat support services provide SPARBANK with fast response and relevant information. “We save time and manpower by relying on Red Hat’s middleware support services. If a problem occurs, we can count on their quick feedback to our questions, which means we can resolve any issues before they cause real damage. We also use support services on a regular basis to consult them on best practices on a wide range of areas that would previously take weeks, months, or even longer to research through other channels,” Larsen continued.

Since migrating to JBoss Enterprise Middleware, SPARBANK has not experienced any unplanned down-time of any application. The development team has also expanded its knowledge on the JBoss product suite and can use JBoss platforms more efficiently by utilising new relevant functionalities and features.

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